Carnitine metabolism during exercise in patients with peripheral vascular disease


Hiatt WR, Nawaz D, Brass EP




J Appl Physiol


The distribution between carnitine and the acyl derivatives of carnitine reflects changes in the metabolic state of a variety of tissues. Patients with peripheral vascular disease (PVD) develop skeletal muscle ischemia with exertion. This impairment in oxidative metabolism during exercise may result in the generation of acylcarnitines. To test this hypothesis, 11 patients with PVD and 7 age-matched control subjects were evaluated with graded treadmill exercise. Subjects with PVD walked to maximal claudication pain at a peak O2 consumption (VO2) of 19.9 +/- 1.3 ml X kg-1 X min-1 (mean +/- SE). Control subjects were taken to a near-maximal work load at a VO2 of 31.3 +/- 1.0 ml X kg-1 X min-1. In patients with PVD, the plasma concentration of total acid-soluble, long-chain acylcarnitine and total carnitine was increased at peak exercise compared with resting values. Four minutes postexercise, the plasma short-chain acylcarnitine concentration was also increased. In control subjects taken to the higher work load, only the long-chain acylcarnitine concentration was increased at peak exercise. In patients with PVD, plasma short-chain acylcarnitine concentration at rest was negatively correlated with subsequent maximal walking time (r = -0.51, P less than 0.05). In conclusion, acylcarnitines increased in patients with PVD who walked to maximal claudication pain, whereas control subjects did not show equivalent changes even when taken to a higher work load. The relationship between short-chain acylcarnitine concentration at rest and subsequent exercise performance suggests that repeated episodes of ischemia may cause chronic accumulation of short-chain acylcarnitine in plasma in proportion to the severity of disease.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)